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The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith 1245 [17] 1246 [18] 1247 [19] way, seem to be the two great causes of the prosperity of all new colonies. In the plenty of good land the English colonies of North America, though no doubt very abundantly provided, are however inferior to those of the Spaniards and Portuguese, and not superior to some of those pos-sessed by the French before the late war. But the political institutions of the English colonies have been more favourable to the improvement and cultivation of this land than those of any of the other three nations. First, the engrossing of uncultivated land, though it has by no means been prevented altogether, has been more restrained in the English colon-ies than in any other. The colony law which imposes upon every proprietor the obligation of improving and cultivating, within a limited time, a cer-tain proportion of his lands, and which in case of failure, declares those neglected lands grantable to any other person, though it has not, perhaps, been very strictly executed, has, however, had some effect. Secondly, in Pennsylvania there is no right of primogeniture, and lands, like movables, are divided equally among all the children of the family. In three of the provinces of New England the oldest has only a double share, as in the Mosaical law. Though in those provinces, therefore, too great a quantity of land should sometimes be engrossed by a particular individual, it is likely, in the course of a generation or two, to be sufficiently divided again. In the other English colonies, indeed, the right of primogeniture takes place, as in the law of England. But in all the English colonies the tenure of the lands, which are all held by free socage, facilitates alienation, and the grantee of any extensive tract of land generally finds it for his in-terest to alienate, as fast as he can, the greater part of it, reserving only a small quit-rent. In the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, what is called the right of Majorazzo1 takes place in the succession of all those great estates to which any title of honour is annexed. Such estates go all to one person, and are in effect entailed and unalienable. The French colonies, indeed, are subject to the custom of Paris, which, in the inheritance of land, is much more favourable to the younger children than the law of England. But in the French colonies, if any part of an estate, held by the noble ten-ure of chivalry and homage, is alienated, it is, for a limited time, subject to the right of redemption, either by the heir of the superior or by the heir of the family; and all the largest estates of the country are held by such noble tenures, which necessarily embarrass alienation. But in a new colony a great uncultivated estate is likely to be much more speedily divided by ali- G.ed.p573 enation than by succession. The plenty and cheapness of good land, it has already been observed, are the principal causes of the rapid prosperity of new colonies. The engrossing of land, in effect, destroys this plenty and cheapness. The engrossing of uncultivated land, besides, is the greatest obstruction to its improvement. But the labour that is employed in the im-provement and cultivation of land affords the greatest and most valuable 1[Smith] Jus Majoratus. 443 The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith produce to the society. The produce of labour, in this case, pays not only its own wages, and the profit of the stock which employs it, but the rent of the land too upon which it is employed. The labour of the English colon-ists, therefore, being more employed in the improvement and cultivation of land, is likely to afford a greater and more valuable produce than that of any of the other three nations, which, by the engrossing of land, is more or less diverted towards other employments. 1248 [20] Thirdly, the labour of the English colonists is not only likely to afford a greater and more valuable produce, but, in consequence of the moderation of their taxes, a greater proportion of this produce belongs to themselves, which they may store up and employ in putting into motion a still greater quantity of labour. The English colonists have never yet contributed any-thing towards the defence of the mother country, or towards the support of its civil government. They themselves, on the contrary, have hitherto been defended almost entirely at the expense of the mother country. But the expense of fleets and armies is out of all proportion greater than the necessary expense of civil government. The expense of their own civil gov-ernment has always been very moderate. It has generally been confined to what was necessary for paying competent salaries to the governor, to the judges, and to some other officers of police, and for maintaining a few of the most useful public works. The expense of the civil establishment of Massachusetts Bay, before the commencement of the present disturb-ances, used to be but about 18,000l. a year. That of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, 3,500l. each. That of Connecticut, 4,000l. That of New York and Pennsylvania, 4,500l. each. That of New Jersey, 1,200l. That of Vir-ginia and South Carolina, 8,000l. each. The civil establishments of Nova Scotia and Georgia are partly supported by an annual grant of Parliament. But Nova Scotia pays, besides, about 7,000l. a year towards the public ex- G.ed.p574 penses of the colony; and Georgia about 2,500l. a year. All the different civil establishments in North America, in short, exclusive of those of Maryland and North Carolina, of which no exact account has been got, did not, before the commencement of the present disturbances, cost the inhabitants above 64,700l. a year; an ever-memorable example at how small an expense three millions of people may not only be governed, but well governed. The most important part of the expense of government, indeed, that of defence and protection, has constantly fallen upon the mother country. The ceremo-nial, too, of the civil government in the colonies, upon the reception of a new governor, upon the opening of a new assembly, etc., though suffi-ciently decent, is not accompanied with any expensive pomp or parade. Their ecclesiastical government is conducted upon a plan equally frugal. Tithes are unknown among them; and their clergy, who are far from being numerous, are maintained either by moderate stipends, or by the volun-tary contributions of the people. The power of Spain and Portugal, on the contrary, derives some support from the taxes levied upon their colonies. France, indeed, has never drawn any considerable revenue from its colon- 444 The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith 1249 [21] 1250 [22] ies, the taxes which it levies upon them being generally spent among them. But the colony government of all these three nations is conducted upon a much more expensive ceremonial. The sums spent upon the reception of a new viceroy of Peru, for example, have frequently been enormous. Such ceremonials are not only real taxes paid by the rich colonists upon those particular occasions, but they serve to introduce among them the habit of vanity and expense upon all other occasions. They are not only very griev-ous occasional taxes, but they contribute to establish perpetual taxes of the same kind still more grievous; the ruinous taxes of private luxury and extravagance. In the colonies of all those three nations too, the ecclesiast-ical government is extremely oppressive. Tithes take place in all of them, and are levied with the utmost rigour in those of Spain and Portugal. All of them, besides, are oppressed with a numerous race of mendicant fri-ars, whose beggary being not only licensed but consecrated by religion, is a most grievous tax upon the poor people, who are most carefully taught that it is a duty to give, and a very great sin to refuse them their charity. Over and above all this, the clergy are, in all of them, the greatest engrossers of land. Fourthly, in the disposal of their surplus produce, or of what is over and above their own consumption, the English colonies have been more favoured, and have been allowed a more extensive market, than those of G.ed.p575 any other Europeannation. Every European nation has endeavoured more or less to monopolise to itself the commerce of its colonies, and, upon that account, has prohibited the ships of foreign nations from trading to them, and has prohibited them from importing European goods from any foreign nation. But the manner in which this monopoly has been exercised in different nations has been very different. Some nations have given up the whole commerce of their colonies to an exclusive company, of whom the colonists were obliged to buy all such European goods as they wanted, and to whom they were obliged to sell the whole of their own surplus produce. It was the interest of the company, therefore, not only to sell the former as dear, and to buy the latter as cheap as possible, but to buy no more of the latter, even at this low price than what they could dispose of for a very high price in Europe. It was their interest, not only to degrade in all cases the value of the surplus produce of the colony, but in many cases to discourage and keep down the natural increase of its quantity. Of all the expedients that can well be contrived to stunt the natural growth of a new colony, that of an exclusive company is undoubtedly the most effectual. This, however, has been the policy of Holland, though their company, in the course of the present century, has given up in many respects the exertion of their exclusive privilege. This, too, was the policy of Denmark till the reign of the late king. It has occa-sionally been the policy of France, and of late, since 1755, after it had been abandoned by all other nations on account of its absurdity, it has become 445 The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith 1251 [23] 1252 [24] 1253 [25] the policy of Portugal with regard at least to two of the principal provinces of Brazil, Fernambuco and Marannon. Other nations, without establishing an exclusive company, have con-fined the whole commerce of their colonies to a particular port of the mother country, from whence no ship was allowed to sail, but either in a fleet and at a particular season, or, if single, in consequence of a particu-lar licence, which in most cases was very well paid for. This policy opened, indeed, the trade of the colonies to all the natives of the mother country, provided they traded from the proper port, at the proper season, and in the proper vessels. But as all the different merchants, who joined their stocks in order to fit out those licensed vessels, would find it for their interest to act in concert, the trade which was carried on in this manner would ne-cessarily be conducted very nearly upon the same principles as that of an exclusive company. The profit of those merchants would be almost equally exorbitant and oppressive. The colonies would be ill supplied, and would be obliged both to buy very dear, and to sell very cheap. This, however, till within these few years, had always been the policy of Spain, and the price of all European goods, accordingly, is said to have been enormous in the Spanish West Indies. At Quito, we are told by Ulloa, a pound of iron sold for about four and sixpence, and a pound of steel for about six and nine-pence sterling. But it is chiefly in order to purchase European goods that the colonies part with their own produce. The more, therefore, they pay for the one, the less they really get for the other, and the dearness of the one is the same thing with the cheapness of the other. The policy of Portugal is in this respect the same as the ancient policy of Spain with regard to all its colonies, except Fernambuco and Marannon, and with regard to these it has lately adopted a still worse. Other nations leave the trade of their colonies free to all their subjects who may carry it on from all the different ports of the mother country, and who have occasion for no other licence than the common despatches of the custom-house. In this case the number and dispersed situation of the dif-ferent traders renders it impossible for them to enter into any general com-bination, and their competition is sufficient to hinder them from making very exorbitant profits. Under so liberal a policy the colonies are enabled both to sell their own produce and to buy the goods of Europe at a reason-able price. But since the dissolution of the Plymouth Company, when our colonies were but in their infancy, this has always been the policy of Eng-land. It has generally, too, been that of France, and has been uniformly so since the dissolution of what, in England, is commonly called their Missis-sippi Company. The profits of the trade, therefore, which France and Eng-land carry on with their colonies, though no doubt somewhat higher than if the competition was free to all other nations, are, however, by no means ex-orbitant; and the price of European goods accordingly is not extravagantly high in the greater part of the colonies of either of those nations. In the exportation of their own surplus produce too, it is only with re- G.ed.p576 G.ed.p577 446 The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith 1254 [26] 1255 [27] 1256 [28] 1257 [29] 1258 [30] gard to certain commodities that the colonies of Great Britain are confined to the market of the mother country. These commodities having been enu-merated in the Act of Navigation and in some other subsequent acts, have uponthataccountbeencalledenumeratedcommodities. Therestarecalled non-enumerated, and may be exported directly to other countries provided it is in British or Plantation ships, of which the owners and three-fourths of the mariners are British subjects. Among the non-enumerated commodities are some of the most import-ant productions of America and the West Indies; grain of all sorts, lumber, salt provisions, fish, sugar and rum. Grain is naturally the first and principal object of the culture of all new colonies. By allowing them a very extensive market for it, the law encour-ages them to extend this culture much beyond the consumption of a thinly inhabited country, and thus to provide beforehand an ample subsistence for a continually increasing population. In a country quite covered with wood, where timber consequently is of little or no value, the expense of clearing the ground is the principal obstacle to improvement. By allowing the colonies a very extensive market for their lumber, the law endeavours to facilitate improvement by raising the price of a commodity which would otherwise be of little value, and thereby enabling them to make some profit of what would otherwise be a mere expense. In a country neither half-peopled nor half-cultivated, cattle naturally multiply beyond the consumption of the inhabitants, and are often upon that account of little or no value. But it is necessary, it has already been shown, that the price of cattle should bear a certain proportion to that of corn before the greater part of the lands of any country can be improved. By allowing to American cattle, in all shapes, dead or alive, a very extens-ive market, the law endeavors to raise the value of a commodity of which the high price is so very essential to improvement. The good effects of this liberty, however, must be somewhat diminished by the 4th of George III, c. 15, which puts hides and skins among the enumerated commodities, and thereby tends to reduce the value of American cattle. To increase the shipping and naval power of Great Britain, by the ex-tension of the fisheries of our colonies, is an object which the legislature seems to have had almost constantly in view. Those fisheries, upon this G.ed.p578 account, have had all the encouragement which freedom can give them, and they have flourished accordingly. The New England fishery in partic-ular was, before the late disturbances, one of the most important, perhaps, in the world. The whale-fishery which, notwithstanding an extravagant bounty, is in Great Britain carried on to so little purpose that in the opin-ion of many people (which I do not, however, pretend to warrant) the whole produce does not much exceed the value of the bounties which are annu-ally paid for it, is in New England carried on without any bounty to a very 447 ... - tailieumienphi.vn
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